THE strength of athletics in Cheshire was underlined on Saturday as the county’s representative team delivered a superb performance at the Mason Trophy event in Birmingham.

Cheshire finished a highly creditable second behind the West Midlands at the annual inter-counties schools competition, staged at Alexander Stadium.

Sandy Littler, Cheshire Schools team manager, said: “The depth of outstanding athletes is on the rise in Cheshire. The teachers responsible for athletics in Cheshire, enhanced by our enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteer coaches at the Cheshire athletics clubs, are achieving an excellent standard.”

Littler admitted that the selection meeting for next month’s English Schools AA Championships in Gateshead was ‘one of the hardest ever’. A total of 41 Cheshire athletes have achieved the basic entry standard, but there is room for only 35 in the team.

In Birmingham at the weekend, Chester’s Matt Sheen and Kelly Baker both celebrated successes for Cheshire.

Christleton High pupil Sheen won the junior boys 800m title with a time of two minutes and 5.4 seconds, while Baker (Bishops’ High) hit 10.96m for victory in the intermediate girls shot.

Jenni Potter (Neston High) claimed second spot in the intermediate girls hammer with an English Schools standard throw of 34.06m.

Queen’s School pupil Amy Williams registered second spot in the junior girls long jump with 5.35m, while Chester Catholic High pupil Alice Jennings clocked 46.3 seconds for third spot in the intermediate girls 300m hurdles.

Tarporley High’s Amy Hinchly rounded the junior girls 1,500m in a time of 4:58.0, and Upton High’s Tessa McCormick achieved a time of 5:06.4 for ninth spot in the intermediate girls 1,500m.

Ross McCormick (Abbey Gate College) clocked 12 seconds for third position in the junior boys 80m hurdles, while Alex Hailes (Bishop Heber) finished eighth with 15.5 seconds in the intermediate boys 100m hurdles.

Ali Burkett (Bishops’ High) was ninth with 43.70 seconds in the intermediate girls 300m and Upton High’s Michael Bailiff cleared 1.80m for seventh position in the intermediate boys high jump.

Matthew Spencer (King’s School) finished fourth in the intermediate boys shot with 12.12m and Christleton High’s Cameron Clark hit 44.57m for fourth position in the intermediate boys javelin.

Also in action for Cheshire were Yousef Khalifa (Queen’s Park High), who achieved 5.25m for 17th position in the intermediate boys long jump, and Mark Hearn (Christleton High), who hit 23.22m for 13th spot in the junior boys discus.

Lucy Earl (Bishop Heber) spun the intermediate girls discus to 16.57m for 14th position.

Fixtures this weekend include the latest round of the Cheshire Track and Field League at Crewe’s Cumberland Stadium on Sunday (1pm start) and the Tattenhall Tough Team Challenge tomorrow.